Football is their job. Not their life. That’s a point most who play in the NFL try to push across. And one that us, the fans on the outside, tend to forget. There’s rookies moving to a new city, veterans with families, and for Alejandro Villanueva, time in the classroom.
Villanueva enrolled in Carnegie Mellon’s Business program in 2015, shortly after joining the Steelers. And as he told Steelers.com’s Teresa Varley, school doesn’t stop for football. Whether it’s training camp or the regular season, he was still in school.
He told Varley balancing the two wasn’t as difficult as he thought except for training camp when being in Latrobe and having a rigorous schedule made life tough.
“I think training camp was the hardest. Taking classes in camp and competing for a roster spot. That was the most challenging part. I would go to classes during camp. Tuesdays were normally the day off so it worked. I would go to class and come back to Latrobe.”
Recently, he talked about the mental drain of battling to be the starting left tackle, rotated every-other-day with Ryan Harris, making Latrobe a pretty taxing experience in hindsight.
He credited CMU’s Tepper Business School for helping with the transition and being military friendly. Here’s what he told the school’s site in January.
“I think the Tepper School is a great choice for veterans. The city of Pittsburgh is very welcoming, very affordable and offers things that veterans are very fond of, such as sports and the outdoors. It’s a great match.”
His class schedule runs from 6-10 PM every Monday and Tuesday. A 32 month program, he should graduate in the spring of 2018.
Villanueva is clearly a person whose life isn’t dedicated to football though that in no way lessens the passion and determination he’s attacked the sport with. It took years and a position change, reverting back to offensive tackle, for him to stick in the NFL and be anything more than a curiosity and war hero in the eyes of the league. Now, he is pushing himself into the conversation of being a top ten left tackle in the league.